Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

Now in our 9th year of bringing you beautiful imagery from biomedical science every day

Aspirin Looks Fishy
22 September 2012

Aspirin Looks Fishy

Researchers are gathering a growing pile of data showing that regular low doses of aspirin, a staple of medicine cabinets around the world for more than a century, can reduce the risk of several types of cancer. But nobody really knows how it works. In search of clues, scientists have turned to tiny transparent zebrafish larvae that have been genetically modified to develop skin cancer. The tumour is made up of cancerous cells (green outline) that have high levels of a molecular receptor called EP1 (stained magenta), which acts like a radio receiver. They receive a chemical signal called prostaglandin, which tells the cancer cells to grow. Aspirin turns off prostaglandin production by neighbouring immune cells (stained red), cutting off the ‘fuel supply’ and slowing tumour growth. Although they’re just a few millimetres long, these delicate fish larvae could hold the explanation for aspirin’s cancer-preventive effects on our own bodies.

Written by Kat Arney

Search The Archive

Submit An Image

What is BPoD?

BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

Read More

BPoD is also available in Catalan at with translations by the University of Valencia.